Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Football 301: Decoding Garrett - Week 11


Here are the numbers for you to see on Sunday's game versus the Redskins. As a review, one week after 43 Shotgun snaps on 58 plays , the Cowboys ran only 23 Shotgun snaps in 61 plays. Again, the object of the game is not to have a run/pass balance, but rather a majority of 1st and 2nd Down needs to be "under center".

35 plays with multiple Tight Ends showed a conviction for running the ball, and again, let's remember that they ran for 5 yards per carry, which is slightly lower than their season total of 5.14 yards per carry, 2nd in the NFL behind Tennessee.

Don't let anyone tell you this team is not a power running team. They are ignoring hard evidence.

Totals by Personnel Groups:
PackagePlays RunYardsRunPass

Table Tutorial

Definition of the Personnel Groups, click here .

The trouble, of course, with Sunday's game is that this team did not make the most of its passing game. 19 pass plays out of the shotgun yielded slightly over 100 yards, so there is something that is not very effective right now.

Check out the video breakdowns, where we highlight good things the offense accomplished. Again, I don't have a ton to choose from, so here is what we found:

Video Breakdowns:

Thanks, Brian at DC Fanatic.com . He is the man, and deserves your occasional visit to his site.

The Play:1Q 2nd - "21" 1/10/47 - Barber for 8

What Happened:Of the first 18 plays on 1st and 2nd down, the Cowboys ran 14 times. Here is one example of this, as they start their 2nd drive with good field position, and roll out simple "21" personnel, which allows Deon Anderson on the Field. I thought this was a good play to demonstrate Deon's ability to blow open a path for Marion Barber with a good lead block on 52 McIntosh, and then watch Andre Gurode get to the 2nd level and eat up the middle LB 59 Fletcher.
All Barber has to do is fall forward and he gets an easy 8 or 9 yards. This of course accomplishes plenty, including breaking into Washington Territory, setting up 2nd and very short, and getting the OL going in the right direction. I may keep saying this, but there is nothing wrong with the way the Cowboys run the football when they choose to run the football. The "21" package for the season has run the ball 44 times for 218 yards (4.95 yards per carry).


The Play:1Q - "13" - 1/10/40 Jones for 7

What Happened: Out of the "13" package, they run a play that they used out of the "22" in the Giants home game quite a bit, and then have come back to it time and time again. This is based on having Bennett and Witten both split to the right as possible receivers in presnap. The defense must honor this, because it can present real mismatch issues unless they counter the "13" with some sort of nickel. This is the chess match. You put out your personnel group, wait for the defense to counter, and then call your play based on who they put on the field.

Anyway, here they bring Bennett in motion to get the Defensive end, and then the RT Doug Free pulls behind Bennett to go get the OLB. This, obviously, must be timed right. When it does, it leaves 54 Blades to outflank 89 Phillips who is playing FB here, and if he cannot, then Felix has a seam. Also, notice 70 Davis getting his steamroller going. Powerful run. Again, this team can run the ball out of power sets.


The Play: "S12" 3Q - 1/15/19 - To Austin for 23 yards

What Happened: Last play of the 3rd Quarter, and we see the Cowboys starting a drive with a 1st and 15 situation. Shotgun "12" with Bennett and Witten. Witten flares to the left and Roy Williams on the right sideline runs a simple "go". Austin, starts with a very easy curl after going in motion, but we see one of Miles better characteristics - which is staying alive when a play breaks down. Crayton does this well, too, as we will see in a bit.

Romo shows a little of young Favre here, as there is nothing to see in the designed portion of the play. But, when protection breaks down, he begins to get out on the run to the right and figure something out on the fly. 99 Carter is against 68 Free at RT, and a spin move almost allows Carter to get a sack. He does not get there, and Romo running to his right finds Austin staying alive, and it turns into a big gainer and the very 1st time the Cowboys found a WR for a completion, 44:52 into the game!


The Play: 4Q 2/15/37 shotgun run for Barber +15

What Happened: This is two plays later. 2nd and 15, and the Cowboys cross midfield with a shotgun run. I generally am not a huge proponent of running out of the shotgun, but this demonstrates when it makes an immense amount of sense. Romo seems to see that the LBs are blitzing in his presnap reads. He diagnoses, and checks off into a run which will use a gap that the blitzers will not utilize, and this is a classic case of catching a blitz perfectly. What this does, of course, is Barber running free into the defensive backfield. Then the replay shows you that the safeties are so deep stopping the pass, that Barber gets an easy big gainer. This was the biggest run of the game for 16 yards.

The Play: 3/1/O38 - Barber dropped behind line by Carter

What Happened: Now, here is an example of a shotgun run that did not work so well. This is a crucial 3rd down and 1, and again, there is a real chess match between Romo and Fletcher. It looks like Romo checks into a run that makes sense, but exectution dooms this play as 68 Free gets a poor leverage angle on 99 Carter, and Carter gets inside and chases down Barber from behind.

You can make all sorts of plans, but if one guy misses his block, the play is doomed. This set up the 4th and 2, which turned into Romo's 1 interception of the day.

The Play: S11 2:41 4Q - 2/G/10 Touchdown to Crayton

What Happened: Ok, the play of the game. S11, 2nd and Goal, Romo eludes another sack - (have you ever wondered how many sacks the Cowboys would have given up if Drew Bledsoe was still the QB?) - as Adams is beaten by 98 Orakpo on the play, but Romo gets away. This time, he demonstrates he can run to his left and make a play. Now, the fair question is this: Were 63 Kosier and 65 Gurode downfield?

Illegal Man Downfield Rule: it is a foul when an ineligible offensive player, including a T-formation quarterback, prior to a legal forward pass advances beyond the line of scrimmage after losing contact with an opponent at the line of scrimmage. The guideline for officials to use is the offending player must be more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage prior to the pass.

By that definition, it would seem that the Cowboys got away with one here, no? Unless you can determine that both 63 and 65 were engaged with 64 Golston, which seems like a bit of a stretch. Both players are at the 7 when the ball is thrown.

Target Distribution and Sack studies will be in another entry today. Stay tuned for that.

Past Episodes:

Week 10 - Green Bay Packers
Week 9 - Philadelphia Eagles
Week 8 - Seattle Seahawks
Week 7 - Atlanta Falcons
Week 5 - Kansas City
Week 4 - Denver
Week 3 – Carolina
Week 2 - New York Giants
Week 1 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Garrett '08


Jay Beerley said...

I totally feel like Aikman made himself look silly with people who watch the Cowboys all of the time insisting that running the ball was pointless and the identity of the team is slinging the ball around. If all he was doing to prep for the games is remember the Cowboys from 2 years ago, maybe. But clearly this team's identity SHOULD be power runs and then lots of play action. The rest of the league seems to understand this well. Colts, anyone? Heck, even Philly had this down Sunday night!

Shawn said...

Bob, I feel that you missed a massive opportunity to plant your flag on this issue.

Out of the 12 package the Cowboys averaged 8 yards per pass and out of the S11 package they only averaged 5 yards per pass.

This game was the best proof of your argument. The power run is fantastic with over 5 yards per run and the snaps from under center open up the passing game, leading to the better passing stats out of the 12 than the S11.